Club Spotlight: St. Mary's Ultimate Team (SMUT)

At a college very much defined by its region, St. Mary’s Ultimate Team (SMUT) is a club with national ambitions.  The women’s team completed an incredible season last year by winning a bid to Nationals, while the men’s team won three Ultimate Frisbee tournaments last year, including Sectionals – the first step towards a spot at Nationals.  With three returning seniors, an unusually large cohort of juniors that all learned the sport together, and a high-yield crop of promising first-years, men’s SMUT has its sights set firmly on Nationals 2012.

Although SMUT has been around for several decades on this frisbee-friendly campus, only in recent years has the club begun to acquire a serious reputation for skill and etiquette among the other Division III schools – a group which includes colleges such as Wake Forest, Richmond, and Davidson.  Those on the team credit this new-found reputation to an increased emphasis on drills that build the players’ skill sets, more strenuous fitness regiments, and a positive change in attitude.  Before, practice consisted of simply scrimmaging for an hour and a half, now the team runs and drills for at least an hour each day before scrimmaging.  SMUT practices on Admissions Field and North Fields four days a week, usually from about 4 to 6 p.m.

Captain and senior Shelby Jones (5’10”) recalls how, in previous years, strategy often consisted of relying on one or two clutch players to pull the team out of lethargy or desperate endgame situations.  “Now,” Jones says, “we’re really trying to involve a wider variety of players at tournaments so we can have that base of experience which lasts from one year to the next.”  Couper Turkewitz, another senior and captain, agreed: “Although we have a great team this year and we’re focused on the goal of Nationals 2012, a long-term view of things is just as important.”

That perspective is part of the new mentality which characterizes SMUT these days.  It’s a club that takes itself more seriously than in the past, and has consequently enjoyed unprecedented success, but which still appeals to students who can’t commit quite as much time as they would to a varsity sport.  This balance between commitment and leisure has yielded the biggest turnout in SMUT history.  First-year and local redhead Eli Sherlock described how, “it’s just a really nice, inclusive group of people that make you feel like part of a family, which is really valuable when you’re starting out here at St. Mary’s.”

SMUT is a club on the rise, and one to keep your eye on this year.

Men’s SMUT Reflects on Season

SMUT was brought to an entirely different level this year, and there are a lot of factors that made it happen. First, six great seniors have been playing for four years, and brought great play and even better organization to a team predominately consisting of underclassmen.

These seniors, along with arguably the strongest sophomore teams St. Mary’s has ever seen, brought St. Mary’s a winning season and three shining trophies.

I’ve personally never experienced a more cohesive team as I have this semester, both on and off the field.

St. Mary’s is notorious for having great individual potential and investment, but not being able to reach a level of togetherness to transform those qualities into a winning record. This year, however, the spirits between individuals was much stronger, and became apparent as we won our first tournament and continued to grew with each tournament win thereafter. Our annual spring break tournament in Jekyll Island, Georgia is always the most fun tournament of the year for its great competition during the day, and cooling off at the beach after tournament days. Our team not only won our division (with 26 teams in the tournament), but also got so much closer as a team and enjoyed each others company more than ever before. Most recently, however, we won our entire mid-atlantic section, making it to SMUT’s first ever regional tournament.

While our year may have been the best in the history of men’s SMUT, women’s SMUT also accomplished unprecedented and incredible feats. After a coed tournament win earlier in the semester and an undefeated first day of Regionals, WSMUT won their way into the highest level of Division III competition: the U.S. National Championships! Not only does this rank women’s SMUT in the TOP 16 teams in the NATION, it reflects the most impressive year for both the men and women on the SMUT team and how much St. Mary’s wanted to win this year.

With strong rising seniors and experienced underclassmen growing with even more experience, we expect to bring even more trophies home next year while continuing SMUT’s incredible history in the making. We wish WSMUT the best of luck at DIII Nationals in New York!

 

SMUT Wins: Captains Reflect on Championship

It all started on a balmy Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. The St. Mary’s Ultimate Team (SMUT) split into three teams, alumni, underclassmen, and upperclassmen. Our story follows the upperclassmen.

A team of eight girls and nine guys went on to do something the St. Mary’s Ultimate Team has never done: win a tournament. With one day to play a round robin coed tournament, SMUT had their work cut out for them. They had to win four games out of their pool followed by two more to become victors.

No doubt, legs were tired and tempers ran high, as SMUT desperately tried to defend their home turf.

The morning started off quickly, as SMUT rolled past Catholic University 13-5. The team was feeling solid and was ready to play the much-anticipated match-up with the alumni team. Davey Clough, co-captain of the men’s team, shares his thoughts on the matchup between the alumni team and the upperclassman team.

According to players, the game was friendly and joking between both teams but also very competitive. The home team was on the defense, so they had to get a turnover and then capitalize on it – leading up to a layout catch in the endzone to end the game.

The game was, as players put it, “an epic battle that easily rivaled the Iliad”, as the younger “SMUTTERS” came out on top. This game helped shape the rest of the day for SMUT.

They went into their bye round feeling good and seeing the light as they only had to be at Salisbury University and Liberty University to coast into the A bracket championships.

The Salisbury game proved to be difficult at first; however, SMUT came out on top 10-5. Liberty proved to be easy as SMUT won big 13-2. The team had plenty of opportunities to perfect their play as they prepared for the bracket play.

After reseeding all of the teams, SMUT upperclassmen were the easy favorites. They had a bye the first round, only to find themselves battling Loyola University. The game went back and forth for the first four points, until SMUT woke up and rallied.

“The whole time we were playing Loyola, we kept thinking about the coveted trophy that we desperately wanted to win,” senior Lucia Randazzo said. “At halftime we got our heads realigned as we jumped around and sang our favorite SMUT cheer. This is the one thing we needed to get going again and show Loyola what’s up.”

SMUT went on to beat Loyola 10-5, to setup a matchup between Liberty’s A team and themselves.

“We wanted this more than anything before,” senior co-captain Brian van Parys said. “We wanted this tournament to be a springboard for the rest of the spring season and for Sectionals and we desperately wanted to bring home the trophy.”

Due to darkness the two teams decided to play the championship game to nine instead of 13. SMUT started off strong by utilizing all the players on their team. Elizabeth Benge, a senior rookie on the girl’s team was especially proud of that.

“It was such an incredible experience to be a part of a team that fostered mutual respect of the male and female players.”

The team was clearly feeling good as they started pulling out a little trickery for the crowd that gathered to watch the championship game. Tricky throws and gratuitous layouts were happening on every point. The defense was strong and was not allowing Liberty to score at all.

The final score was 9-0 in favor of SMUT making them the first ever team in SMUT history to win a tournament. “It was an incredible day full of ultimate, scoring, and hanging out with great friends,” junior Chris Robinson said. “Winning the tournament will go down as one of my favorite memories of school history.”

SMUT is continuing their winning ways as the men’s team took home a first place trophy at the annual spring break tournament in Brunswick, Georgia. Come out to support your fellow SMUTTERS April 16 and 17 as they look to win their section and travel on to Buffalo, NY for ultimate nationals.

SMUT Back from Georgia, Prepares for Regionals

St. Mary’s Ultimate Team (SMUT) traveled to Jekyll Island, Georgia over spring break to play the High Tide tournament. SMUT won 4 of their 9 games during the tournament.

High Tide is an Ultimate Frisbee tournament that has been running for 13 years and hosts over 150 teams annually. SMUT attended High Tide along with 8 other teams, including University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, and Rutgers University. St. Mary’s finished tenth out of 24 in their bracket.

The tournament is a week-long event and it had a major effect on the team’s morale and preparation for the rest of the spring season. It was the first tournament SMUT has played this spring; several earlier tournaments were postponed due to rain and rescheduled for times that were inconvenient for the team, such as spring break.

There was no dampening the team’s spirits after their time in Georgia. Senior Adam Wisneski said, “It was the best spring break experience I’ve had. To go down there and do as well as we did proves something: that we can succeed.” Senior Michael Ennis said, “High Tide was a lot of fun.  We grew as a team.”

SMUT had another tournament this past weekend in Poolesville. The second annual tournament Roll Call features teams from all over the country that will compete at the Capitol Polo Club.

The team is preparing for sectionals on April 4 and 5, in which Ultimate teams will come together and play for a chance to make it to regionals. Wisneski said, “If we work hard there’s a solid chance we can make it to regionals. “ The team has never been to regionals before.  Regionals are going to be held April 25 and 26 in Princeton, NJ.

Aside from tournaments, SMUT has been practicing hard in order to play their best for sectionals.  First-year Shelby Jones said, “We have a great team right now and therefore put high standards on our performance…We’ve had a goal throughout the season to practice like we will play in the games and have but in a lot of work during the week to be at our peak…”

The team’s dynamic is also very strong right now.  Ennis described the team experience as “like being in a big, weird family… It is a team that can have players pitted in a screaming match one night, and the next morning those players who were so angry are playing their hearts out trying to win on the field. “

New players on the SMUT team this year have benefitted from the experience of being on such a unique team. Jones said, “Upon joining the team I instantly felt the community aspect that we value so much at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.”